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WEEKDAY MAGAZINE – Celebrating The Bambino on National Babe Ruth Day

Babe Ruth autographing his bat for Secretary of War James W. Good in 1929 (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)

This piece is by one-half of the “Travelin’ Cousins, a little blog about the travel adventures of a couple of cousins.”

 

Celebrating The Bambino on National Babe Ruth Day

Elisa Valentino

On April 27, 1947, Babe Ruth returned to Yankee Stadium for a celebration in his honor. The house that Ruth built, a nickname given to Yankee Stadium, was packed with close to 60,000 fans for what was proclaimed National Babe Ruth Day.

Each year on this day, we pay homage to one of baseball’s greatest players of all time, whose career, spanned twenty-two seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB).

For die-hard baseball fans, most of what is contained within this article will not come as much of a surprise, although, I’m hoping there are a few interesting trivia facts, you may garner! In the case of the less educated fan, allow me to expand your knowledge and appreciation of this iconic baseball legend.

About Babe Ruth:

George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr., was born on February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland. Raised in a poor waterfront community, by age seven, he had already become a bit of a handful to his working parents, regularly caught wandering the dockyards, drinking, chewing tobacco and taunting local police officers. In an effort to provide him with more discipline, his parents sent him to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a Catholic orphanage and reformatory for which Ruth would call home for the next twelve years.

Ruth’s Extraordinary Baseball Career:

While at St. Mary’s, Ruth excelled at baseball and by the age of fifteen, exhibited remarkable skill both as a strong hitter and pitcher. His outstanding pitching caught the eye of Jack Dunn, the owner of the minor league Baltimore Orioles. At the time, this team groomed players for the major league team, the Boston Red Sox, where Ruth would begin his illustrious career.

Moving up to the Majors after a short time with the Orioles, Ruth proved to be an invaluable asset to the Red Sox, and the left-handed pitcher led his team to three championships over the the next five years including a still-record 13 scoreless innings in one game during the 1916 World Series.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, owner, Harry Frazee, deeply in debt, sold the rights to Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1919 for $100,000. With Ruth on the team, New York went on to win four World Series titles over the next 15 seasons.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, were not as fortunate. Their winning streak came to a screeching halt with the loss of Ruth and the team would not win a World Series until 2004. ​The inability of the Red Sox to win a Series during the 86-year period from 1918 to 2004 was dubbed “The Curse of the Bambino” and caused a rivalry between Boston and New York.

Playing for three teams from 1914 to 1935, Ruth went on to break baseball’s most important slugging records, including most years leading a league in home runs, most total bases in a season, and highest slugging percentage for a season. In all, Ruth hit 714 home runs—a record that stood until 1974 when Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves surpassed him.

Why “The Babe?”:

At the time Ruth was to be signed to the Orioles, he was a minor and the law required the signature of a legal guardian on the contract. Orioles owner, Jack Dunn, in an effort to sign Ruth, became his legal guardian. Upon seeing George Jr. for the first time, the Orioles players referred to him as “Jack’s newest babe”, and thus the most famous nickname in American sports history was born. Thereafter, George Herman Ruth Jr. was known as the Babe.

The Nation Says Goodbye to Babe Ruth:

In 1935 Ruth returned to Boston for a short stint with the Boston Braves. A week after hitting three home runs in a single game at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, he retired. He became one of the first five players to be elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame the following year.

The baseball great was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1946 and his visit to Yankee Stadium on this day in 1947 for “National Babe Ruth Day” would be the second to last time he was at the stadium. He died on August 16, 1948.

5 Facts About Babe Ruth & Yankee Stadium:

1. Some wanted the brand new Yankee Stadium in 1923 to be called “Ruth Stadium.” Owner Jake Ruppert wanted Ruppert Stadium. They settled for the nickname “the House That Ruth Built.”

2. The first game ever played at Yankees Stadium was the Yankees vs. The Red Sox. The Yankees won 4-1. Babe Ruth hit a three run home-run in the third inning (the stadium’s first home run, too).

3. Yankee Stadium’s design was actually catered to Babe Ruth’s batting stance. The right hand fence was only 350 feet from home plate, compared to 490 feet in deep center field. The left-handed Ruth had no trouble hitting home runs into right field, and the right-field bleachers were eventually nicknamed “Ruthville.”

4. The Yankees won the 1923 World Series (the same year they began playing in the new stadium), against the NY Giants.

5. On August 16, 1948, Babe Ruth died of throat cancer at age 53. His body lay in state at Yankee Stadium and was viewed by more than 100,000 fans.

 

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Elisa is co-founder of Travelin’ Cousins travel blog, A native New Yorker, Fordham graduate, and world traveler, she is passionate about The Bronx as a travel destination for locals and tourists.

To submit writing for publication on MAGAZINE SUNDAYclick here.  Fiction, non-fiction, commentary, news, news analysis, and poetry are welcome.  Bronx slant always preferred.

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